A Lesson Learned From Guy Day—Chiat/Day

When looking to avoid the tried and sometimes true communications campaigns, oftentimes zigging when the competition is zagging is not enough. Should we be thinking inside the box? Should we take a chance and think outside the box? When it comes to intrusive and impactful public relations, no box should exist.  Sure, it is a metaphor for creative or unusual thinking but no marketing or communications  professional  should breathe a sigh of relief with that manifesto—it really is all about achieving business plan objectives. It really doesn’t matter if those marching orders are for internal staff or external agencies or consultants.

One of the great advocates of No Box Thinking was Guy Day of Chiat/Day, whose agency has always been a huge proponent of  delivering the strategic and often unexpected (and usually highly successful) message before the definition even existed from Apple to the Energizer Bunny to our shared clients such as Teddy Ruxpin and Lazer Tag. For many years, Guy was an advocate of ours after a rather bizarre encounter. Smith Public Relations was asked in to pitch a Chiat/Day account after a number of bigger and better known firms didn’t make the cut. We entered this large conference room with at least 20-25 people. We were introduced to the prospective client from Yamaha and began an hour discussion of the assets and liabilities of the product and how PR could be effectively deployed along with the ad campaign.

During the last part of the discussion, I found myself in a spirited  conversation with one of the Chiat/Day team…a distinguished and articulate gentleman.
As one of the Chiat/Day executives walked me to the elevator, he said: “that was pretty gutsy of you taking on Guy Day.” As I started to descend without the elevator, Guy walked up and said after introducing himself: “You and I didn’t agree on much in the meeting but I told them to hire you anyway. They need fresh thinking without the usual constraints.”

They did and Guy and I stayed in professional contact for years. In fact, he often referred business. When he thought that he had totally presold the prospect, he would always say: “Steve, I think you got this one unless you step on your private parts” And, I would always respond with “Guy, if I could step on my private parts, I would be in a different line of work.”

I’m still in PR. And am an advocate for No Box Thinking.